BLOG––Encouraged by Faith

Worshiping through Depression

Posted by Stephen Kenney on

My heart goes out to those who are depressed in our worship assemblies.  Many people can rely on their personal temperaments to help them fully participate in corporate worship.  It's harder for ones who come to worship feeling dull, slow, even sad and overwhelmed.  

Frankly, it almost seems those who feel this way don't belong.  Most of the words and tone of our assemblies are things beyond reach. We ask God to dwell in us, to move us to joyful tears instead of our normal ones (or we ask for feeling where there is none). 

Depression in the assembly feels like faithlessness.  Shouldn't we be experiencing supernatural joy?  Or at the very least, a divine bright spot in our darkness?  Why do we continue to be obsessed with family troubles, work problems, health disappointments?  Why can't we shake the sadness of the news we heard this morning, or the weight of the problems we've been carrying for months or years?

My urge is to sanctify these feelings.  I want to say they are understandable, human. I want to say that some cannot help it.  Instead of feeling faithless, I want to retort:  “Lack of faith?  Never! It can't be that!” ... but it could be.  It could be, but it isn't necessarily.

So why do I feel this way Lord? Do I need more faith? (yes) Is the problem with me? (yes) Is the answer that simple? (I doubt it) I don't want to let myself off the hook too easily.  I have great sympathy for people who have body chemistry that causes these struggles.  I have no difficulty saying “don't beat yourself up.”  There are others who may not have physical causes, but who have been subjected to an unhappy childhood or other trauma that makes depression a close companion.  

But then there are people who have otherwise been okay in their lives, but now circumstances make it difficult to overlook the negativity.  What about us? 

If you're tracking with me in that last paragraph I want you to know that I empathize with you.  We may have different circumstances but we have similar emotions.  I don't want to let myself off too easily, but knowing you feel the same as me makes me reconsider.  Your faithful presence is precious to me.  I'm so glad to see you continuing to battle through, even though you haven't seen the light at the end of the tunnel.  I'm certain God's will for you is to win.  Knowing how much God loves you and supports you reminds me that I am no different.  Sometimes I see the comfort of God clearer in a fellow-struggler.  When you say things that I feel (My faith should be stronger!) I realize how wrong that is.  Let's support each other, and in that quest, accept grace ourselves.

 

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